About That Swim

Franzie greeted me with a huge smile and big hug at the WINforKC triathlon finisher's party last week. The first thing she asked was, "How was your swim?" Her smile dimmed maybe a half watt when I told her my swim time. And she went into full-on analytical mentor mode.

It is one of her finest modes.

"How do you plan to work on that?" she asked. Which is how a mature, seasoned athlete follows up. No comforting pat on the shoulder, no pretending. And there's no BSing Franzie about swimming.

We'd met at our very first WINforKC group workout last year. Zip and Franzie and I were the only three who showed up for the bike ride. All three of us were on mountain bikes or hybrids. We rode the bike path and found every dead end in Lenexa, and Franzie fixed my dropped chain. Then we ran part of the bike path and got to know each other, ended up sitting in Zip's Tahoe outside a coffee shop talking for a couple of hours.

Franzie played with the National Women's Sevens rugby team and is an elite-level swimmer. Her peak workouts in the summer are around 4,000 yards. She trained for and completed the WINforKC triathlon last year on a bum ankle. She's tough, smart, kind, and knows how to cut through the crap.

"I've gotta start from the beginning," I said, and laid out my plan. August, nothing but kicking and body balance. No kickboard. Just gliding, rolling, streamlined, getting the feel of water and my body. September, keep gliding and kicking, adding lengths with the stroke. There won't be much swimming in October for scheduling reasons... November and December, start drills, increasing yardage, and a little speed work.

Franzie nodded. Not a bad plan. "What do you think about when you swim?"

I started in on pressing the chest buoy. She shook her head. "It's simpler than that," she said. "Just think about your body in a straight line. Don't worry about anything else. That's all you need to do."

It works. When I start off a kick set gliding, my hips are dropped and my whole body sinks as I breathe. I think about my body in alignment, especially my spine through my neck, and up I go to the surface. Magic.

Since Franzie knows what she's talking about there, I'm going to believe the other thing she said about my having a 13-minute 500 meter, easy.